Building relationships with people who speak different languages and come from different places and backgrounds can be challenging, or even scary, for many people.

But for today’s guest, Chris Schirm, it’s all part of his job as a foreign service officer for the U.S. State Department. 

In this role, Chris builds relationships and communicates U.S. priorities in the countries where he’s stationed. In fact, he just arrived in the Republic of Congo to serve in the U.S. embassy there! 

This will be his fifth tour of service abroad, so he knows a thing or two about both the challenges and the joys of getting outside his comfort zone to build cross-cultural relationships in the places where he’s stationed.

Even if you have no desire to ever serve or work or even travel abroad, Chris offers some great perspective on the importance of surrounding ourselves with diversity of people and opinions. He also discussions how curiosity can help us build relationships with people who are different from us––right in our own neighborhoods.

Chris also has some fascinating stories that sound like a scene from a movie and I think you’ll be just as captivated with this conversation as I was!

On top of all of that, this episode was extra special because it allowed me to reconnect with someone I hadn’t spoken to in nearly 20 years! Chris and I met at the University of Missouri while serving as Summer Welcome leaders. That meant we spent an entire summer leading college orientation for the incoming freshman at Mizzou. It was so fun to reconnect with an old friend! But don’t worry––we spared you from singing the orientation leader songs!

Okay, if haven’t already done so, go ahead and hit play on this episode. I hope you enjoy it!

Chris Schirm quote


Connect with Chris Schirm

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  1. Gingy Lebold on August 25, 2020 at 3:57 pm

    I very much enjoyed this conversation. It reminded me of my time living in Germany. When he encouraged learning a foreign language, it brought to mind one memory that I often have. I had 3 years of German in college and 2 months at a language school in Germany before going to Phillips University in Marburg. Classroom language is certainly helpful (I, too, recommend learning one), but the reality does hit. I was on a bus and had just had trouble asking the conductor a fairly simple question with some difficulty. A 3 year-old got on and was rattling away, of course in German), and I remember thinking, if he can do this, why is it so hard for me!!
    Of course, with practice it did get easier, and I was successful in communicating.

    To Chris: I am so thankful that people like you are the face of the United States to so many people. Thank you!! Good Luck and Best Wishes for a successful, happy time in the Republic of the Congo.

    • Laura Click on August 25, 2020 at 8:16 pm

      Thanks for sharing that, Gingy! I had three years of Spanish in high school and two semesters in college. At that point, I could speak it fairly well, but it’s amazing how quickly you lose it if you don’t use it. I can hardly speak it at all now. I think going to another country or having someone who can regularly speak fluently with you is key. I may need to do that pick it back up (or learn something else) and then go somewhere I can use it!

      So glad you enjoyed this conversation!

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